USDA, NIFA Announce Investments in Pollinator Health Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 14 grants totaling approximately $10 million for research to help sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“One-third of all U.S. crop production requires pollination by animals – primarily honey bees, but also wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and bats,” said Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “Recent declines in both managed and wild pollinators are of paramount importance to our nation’s food security and the vitality of natural resources.”  Continue reading

Increase in bee deaths this year could be from climate change

In Southwest Farm Press

Beekeepers in the U.S. reported an increase in honeybee deaths over the last year, possibly the result of erratic weather patterns brought on by a changing climate, according to the scientist leading an annual survey on the insects.

U.S. beekeepers said 40% of their hives, also called colonies, died unexpectedly during the year that ended March 31, according to a survey released Wednesday by researchers from Auburn University and the University of Maryland. That’s up from 33% a year earlier. Continue reading

Feed a Bee program grows grant initiatives

The Bayer Bee Care Program has announced $250,000 in additional funding to support its Feed a Bee 50-state pollinator health initiative through the end of the year. With only three grant cycles remaining in 2018, and the initial $500,000 funding already pledged to projects in 45 of the 50-state goal, the funding boost aims to encourage additional entries nationally and to reach organizations in the five states that have yet to be funded: Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Wyoming. The latest round of funding awarded grants to 14 new projects committed to providing diverse forage and habitat for honey bees and other important pollinators.

Established in early 2017, the Feed a Bee 50-state forage initiative was created to fund projects nationally that either establish or restore diverse forage options for pollinators, which in turn help produce many of the fruits, nuts and vegetables essential to a healthy human diet. Nearly 300 organizations have applied for an award, which are selected by the Feed a Bee steering committee and range from $1,000 to $5,000 each. Continue reading

Breakthrough could aid development of bee-friendly pesticides

Source: University of Exeter

A joint study by the University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research and Bayer AG has discovered the enzymes in honeybees and bumblebees that determine how sensitive they are to different neonicotinoid pesticides.

The potential impact of neonicotinoids on bee health is a subject of intensive research and considerable controversy, with the European Union having restricted three compounds on crops that are attractive to bees in 2013. Continue reading

ARS scientist seeks honey bee disease controls

by Kim Kaplan, Agricultural Research Service

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist Steven Cook will be leading a $1 million funded international consortium of scientists to seek new controls for Varroa mites, honey bees’ number one problem.

Cook, with the Bee Research Laboratory, a part of ARS’s Beltsville (Maryland) Agricultural Research Center, will be the principal investigator of a group that will include scientists from the United States, Canada and Spain. ARS is the in-house research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Continue reading

NC State Researcher Awarded Grant to Improve Honeybee Health

by Dee Shore, NC State University

With a grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research’s Pollinator Health Fund, NC State University scientist David Tarpy is researching the impact of pesticide exposure on honeybee colony disease prevalence and reproductive potential.

Tarpy, a professor of entomology and plant pathology and the NC State Extension apiculturist, recently received a $217,000 grant from FFAR, a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill. The FFAR grant is being matched by a graduate fellowship from the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc., supporting a Ph.D. student in the NC State Apiculture Program, Joe Milone. Continue reading

UK researchers to study pollinator food availability on farmland

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Pollinators are extremely important to agriculture, accounting for one in every three bites of food, but their populations have been declining worldwide for a number of years. In a new study, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment researchers are evaluating how food availability on farmland impacts bee communities in early spring.

“Managing corn and soybean fields in a way that provides food for pollinators early in the spring could be beneficial to bee communities,” said Clare Rittschof, UK assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and leader of the project. “The goal of this project is to help producers improve pollinator populations on their land by providing an attractive and nutritious food source for them.” Continue reading